Since about 2006 I’ve used a shoulder bag made by Alchemy Goods. “Ag” is a local company that makes a line of messenger bags and everyday bags out of recycled bike tubes. The designs are cool, the bags are waterproof, and they are made out of materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
My bag’s strap broke. The repurposed seat belt that is used as the shoulder strap came off of the bag, so I had been just carrying my bag under my arm, while lamenting that I need a new bag.
One nice feature about Ag is that they will repair their products, if they break. I drive by the company headquarters on a regular basis. It is on 1st Avenue just South of Century Link Field (Go Hawks!).
I dropped in to finally relinquish my bag for its repair, and go bagless for however long I needed to.
While negotiating the transaction, filling out the form, etc…I was invited into the side office from the lobby to finish up. Upon entering the office, an older chocolate lab got up enthusiastically to come say hi. Given her arthritis, her version of enthusiasm was tame, and she approached me, to my delight. Any time there is a dog in a room, it is a bonus as far as I’m concerned. I was as happy to see her, as she was to see me.
The man whose office it was apologized on the dog’s behalf and let me know that if I wasn’t a “dog person” that he could keep her away from me.
I was startled by his acknowledgement. “Keep the dog away?” I thought to myself. What a bizarre idea. It didn’t compute. Why on Earth would I want a dog kept away from me?
I smiled gently at him and reached into the temporary clear plastic bag they gave me to hold the contents of my injured bag; as it had to be emptied, of course, to be left with them for repair.
As I have done more times than I can count over the last several years, I handed him a The Dog Show with Julie Forbes car sticker and let him know that I host a talk radio show about life with dogs and am an expert in dog behavior. He let out a chuckle as I knelt down intentionally to interact with the dog and visit with her.
She was a lovely old girl. She looked pretty much like a chocolate lab, but with a docked tail. I had a feeling that the tail was docked due to injury or for some other medical reason, but I didn’t ask about it.
She was friendly, stiff, and gave me a big stretch as she continued to wake up to interact with me.
I walked out of Alchemy Goods, clutching the makeshift clear plastic bag, pondering his remark that struck me… “Not a dog person?”
I couldn’t fathom the thought. For a moment, I was related to by another human as a person who might not like dogs.
It got me thinking about what my life would be like as the person he thought I might be. What would it be like to move through the world as someone who doesn’t have a strong connection with dogs?
The thought of the possibility gave me an empty feeling. I was present to a void. Sadness. My connection with dogs is my life. It got me thinking about what dogs are for me. Dogs fascinate me. I love dogs. Dogs inspire me. Dogs comfort me. Dogs bring me joy. Dogs are fun. I adore dogs. Dogs give me an outlet to nurture. I learn from dogs. Dogs teach me about non-verbal communication and being present. Dogs slow me down and connect me with parts of myself that are easily lost in a high-tech fast, fast, fast world. Dogs calm me, and ground me.
I guess I assume that everyone has a need to experience the feelings that my connection with dogs provides me. Am I wrong to assume this? Are there people out there who are not driven to feel these feelings?
Plenty of people have these outlets satisfied through children. Or cats, I suppose. Or lizards. What about people who don’t have children or pets? Can technology fulfill these aspects of humanity? Do some people feel comfort, love and the experience of slowing down and being present from, say, computers? Are some people totally fulfilled, honestly, without sharing their life with another animal?
Living successfully with a dog often requires people to really be intentional about slowing down and getting present. One of the common threads that runs through my conversations with my clients is about speaking the dog’s language – which is everything but the words. Dogs are non-verbal animals. To effectively communicate with dogs, you must be present to the quality of energy you generate. You must be intentional about your presence. This requires being aware of how you feel, how your energy and emotion runs through your body and manifests through you physically. This is at the core of “body language”.
Interacting with dogs helps keep us connected to our humanity, our bodies and our relationship to where we are in the moment.
Video games, for example, generally do not. Some exceptions now are video games that enable you to use your body, like the Wii, for example. I appreciate the value, but you still aren’t interacting with another animal, you are interacting with a computer. What is the value of interacting with other animals?
The people who I surround myself with are mostly dog lovers, or otherwise somehow share fundamental values of health and connection with self and body. We share a similar quality of consciousness and emotional awareness/intelligence.
Given that I’m in a certain “world”, I wonder if I live in a bit of a bubble.
This thought process leaves me questioning the other types of humans walking the Earth who: don’t like dogs, don’t have kids or any other living creatures they care for. They pour their energy into other things like work, or hobbies that don’t involve living creatures. Or maybe they don’t pour their energy into anything. Maybe they aren’t inspired.
I guess people are inspired in different ways. Of course I know that everyone is not like me, but the specific reality of someone not liking dogs, and moving through their life as that person, makes me appreciate how different we all really are.
Ultimately, I feel so grateful for my strong connection with dogs. I met my wife through our mutual dog connection, and I make a living working with people and their dogs. I write about dogs. I talk with people all over the world through my radio show – all about dogs.
All dog, all the time. Can’t get enough. I am a “dog person”. What kind of person are you?